The education secretary announced Friday that Joe Watkins will begin work immediately in the Chester Upland School District.
The state declared Chester Upland to be financially distressed on Tuesday. Watkins' role is to provide fiscal guidance and leadership.
Chester Upland needed an emergency infusion of state money to keep its doors open this past year. District officials say charter school payments are part of the problem.
Watkins has served as chairman of the education reform group Students First, which supports charters, vouchers and scholarships for students in failing public schools.
Chester Upland Deputy Superintendent Thomas Persing said Friday that he hopes Watkins has "a fair and open mind."